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e-2892 (Foreign affairs)

E-petition
Initiated by Stéphane Handfield from Montréal, Quebec

Original language of petition: French

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • 26 Canadian children born in the Islamic State are currently being detained in Kurdish camps in northeast Syria;
  • Most are under the age of six;
  • Canadian families have urged the Government of Canada to recognize their citizenship and repatriate them, but nothing has been done;
  • For close to two years, these Canadian children have been living in overcrowded camps and facing inhumane conditions such as unsafe water, malnutrition and violence;
  • This is an emergency;
  • The Government of Canada claims that the situation in Syria is too dangerous to go there;
  • The documentary film team behind "Les poussières de Daech" entered Syria and visited the camps;
  • They met with the Kurdish administration in Syria, who offered to help the Government of Canada;
  • On October 5, 2020, a young girl who had been detained in the camps was repatriated;
  • This precedent shows that, contrary to what it says, the Government of Canada can take action in Syria; and
  • In failing to act, the Government of Canada (i) reneges on its promise to citizens to provide effective consular services and emergency assistance at all times, (ii) violates the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which it ratified in 1961, (iii) violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it ratified in 1989, (iv) does not properly represent the progressive country that Canada is.
We, the undersigned citizens of Canada , call upon the Government of Canada to immediately repatriate the 25 innocent Canadian children living in inhumane conditions in the camps of northeast Syria.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada is aware of Canadian citizens being detained by Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria and is particularly concerned with cases of Canadian children.

Global Affairs Canada actively engages Syrian Kurdish authorities to seek information on Canadians in their custody and continues to monitor the situation very closely. Consular officials communicate with Syrian Kurdish authorities to advocate, on an ongoing basis, for the well-being of Canadians in their custody The department also maintains contact with extended family members. When issues regarding the well-being of Canadians are brought to the attention of consular officials, the Government of Canada raises these with the Syrian Kurdish authorities and requests appropriate intervention. Global Affairs Canada is cognizant of the sensitivities surrounding consular cases involving children and is providing consular assistance to the extent possible. However, given the security situation on the ground, the Government of Canada's ability to provide consular assistance in Syria is extremely limited. Canada's embassy in Syria closed in 2012 and Canada has no diplomatic representation in the country at this time.

The security environment in northeastern Syria is highly complex and unpredictable. Intermittent combat operations between various armed actors remain ongoing. There is also an active terrorist threat from several violent extremist organizations. In the absence of diplomatic presence, and given the important security risks, Government of Canada officials do not travel to northeastern Syria and are limited in the assistance they can provide to Canadians. In October 2020, the Government of Canada did provide assistance to a Canadian orphan living in northeastern Syria to bring the child safely to Canada to be united with their extended family. This case involved a unique set of circumstances which called for an exceptional response.

The Canadian Consular Services Charter outlines the consular services the Government of Canada may provide to Canadians. Each consular case has unique facts and circumstances. There will be circumstances in which Canada’s ability to provide consular support may be limited. In certain locations, such as countries without permanent consular staff, Canada’s ability to provide even basic consular services could be severely limited. This is currently the case in Syria.

Canada remains committed to helping partners address humanitarian needs in Syria. As part of Canada’s strategy in the Middle East, Canada has committed over $497 million in humanitarian assistance funding in Syria since 2016. This includes support to partners delivering assistance to displaced persons in northeast Syria, including through international NGOs and UN partners.

Open for signature
October 22, 2020, at 3:29 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 21, 2020, at 3:29 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie)
February 4, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00483)
Government response tabled
March 22, 2021
Photo - Alexandre Boulerice
Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie
New Democratic Party Caucus
Quebec
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